Here’s the basic transcript I read from for this video…sorry about the audio guys:
The Federalist Papers Project has some people up in arms because Republican State Senator Jonathan Perry of Louisiana has decided that he wants to push for all volunteers to require training, certificates and a permit fee before they can go into flooded areas. Trust me, I get it, all you want to do is help people, or all these people want to do is help others. I understand. But I also understand the Senator. In fact, back in 2013 when I changed my degree plan from Hospitality to Homeland Security and Emergency Management, I made a decision that if I ever managed to land a position as an Emergency Management Director, I would work with the state for a required training program and proper certifications that every Search and Rescue team on site had to be qualified in before they were allowed out on the field. If they didn’t, I would find another mission they could help with.
It’s all part of managing the safety and security of the victims, as well as the volunteers. And after Hurricane Katrina, it is of vital importance that we understand this. Louisiana saw first hand what happens when an improperly managed search and rescue mission is executed. Who better than Louisiana to provide the leadership that the Emergency Management field needs in order to ensure things are properly done?
When Katrina kicked off, volunteers rushed in to help usher victims to safety. One of the conflicts, however, was that there wasn’t a lot of communication between volunteers and the people running the scene on what places were or were not already cleared by other volunteer groups. This lack of organization didn’t just make it difficult to get to victims, it also spread the efforts out so thin, that they were less effective than had they been a unified organization communicating with one another. This also left volunteers out in the middle of the field exposed to a number of issues, which risked their own safety. Understanding and knowing how to work with the National Incident Management System, of which you can receive free training on from FEMA’s website, is one of the most important things a Volunteer in Search and Rescue can do.
Next is personal training. Knowing all of the things that you can do in order to mitigate risks to yourself and the victims you are trying to save. If you’re out of the picture, that’s one less volunteer and one more victim. This could be a number of things, knowing how many people you can have on your boat, knowing what actions to take if your boat starts to show signs of being unable to continue. Or if you’re out in the wilderness pulling a track and trail mission, this is stuff like knowing how to navigate terrain, knowing the dangers of letting your dog run to lead you rather than ensuring you are walking the terrain. Or if you’re on a missing person’s case, how not to taint the search area with your cigarette butts because it could give a false lead. A number of things go into personal training depending on the type of search and rescue mission you are on.
Finally, the permit seems to be the biggest issue my friends have had. Someone has to verify your certifications, and someone has to input you into the system. This is not something you do once and you’re trained, it’s progressive and maintained. You can’t teach a canine how to track something, then let him go for 2-3 years without any training expecting him to be able to simply pick it up again. There are other factors, like you being able to read your dog. So you have to maintain it. Every year, someone has to ensure that you’re up-to-date. This permit fee helps pay for that person to verify it all.
So you can be angry with Perry all you want. There are Search and Rescue teams out there that are applauding him because they have seen what happens when improperly trained personnel get on the field. Many of them have been fighting for exactly this type of move by the government in their own states. So as the Federalist Papers put it “Citizen’s aren’t buying it”, that’s because you’ve not seen what happens out there. You don’t know how badly others have messed it up.